This weekend hundreds of writers around the world are participating in the International 3-Day Novel Contest, “the world’s most notorious literary marathon.” This year is the first year in four years that I’m not participating. I wrote about how much I loved the competition and why I’m not participating this year in yesterday’s post.
But what happens to the novels that get written during this competition? The winner gets published every year, but what about all the others? I assume some go on to see publication and many never see the light of day again. Here’s what happened to mine.
In 2008 I wrote a novel that is so bad I usually refer to it as “The Novel that Shall Not be Named” if I even speak of it at all. It was one of the first long stories I’d ever completed. I shared it with a local published novelist and got some good editorial feedback. I also shared it with some friends and family and got their feedback. I then re-drafted it in early 2009. It was still terrible. I didn’t know where it was going. I didn’t know who my characters were. Everything felt contrived and fake. I forget when exactly, but at some point in the late spring / early summer of 2009 my writers group had an all-weekend write-a-thon together and I had some sort of a nervous breakdown with this book (not a real nervous breakdown, but it felt that way). I was fed up with it. I was trying to add to my second draft and “create a real book” but I had no idea what my story really was. By the end of that writing weekend I shelved it and have only gone back to look at it once since then. When I did, it felt uncomfortable (like being around and ex) and I put it back in the filing cabinet pretty quickly. It’s going to stay there for a long time…
In 2009 I was not an official participant in the 3-Day Novel contest but still wrote my story within the contest time frame. During this year I wrote one of my favorite stories that I’ve ever written. It’s a superhero adventure story tentatively called, “Midtown.” It’s about a Batman-esque vigilante who dies and experiences a strange sequence of events in the afterlife that force him to wonder if he really was just, or just vengeful during his life. With this story I wanted to tell what I call a “Second Chance Story” like “A Christmas Carol” or “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “Midtown” has nothing to do with Christmas, but everything to do with a man (in this case, a vigilante hero) who gets to look at the world, past and present, in a unique way and re-consider his decisions. If I remember right, it’s about 16,000 words.
I sent this story out to Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. It was rejected by both publications but in fairly complimentary ways. I shared this story with many friends and will likely keep trying to get it published. At different times I’ve thought about self-publishing it as an eBook, but I don’t want to rush into that. I’m really proud of this story and would love to see it someday go through a professional editing and publication process. We’ll see what happens. If anyone knows about a publication out there that’s looking for superhero adventure stories, please let me know.
During the 2010 3-Day Novel contest I was again not an official contest participant but still wrote my project as if I was. During this weekend I wrote a series of science fiction short stories that, when read in sequence, told one larger story of a world in the not-too-distant future. I’ve not looked at them in some time, but I believe I wrote twelve short stories. I remember that I really liked three of them and that the other nine ranged from poor to terrible. During much of 2010 and 2011 I was not actively pursuing writing or publication, so these stories have just sat dormant in my filing cabinet. I plan to go back and find these, pull out the good ones, and see if I can get them published.
In 2011 I wrote the 3-Day Novel yet again as an unofficial participant, but still adhered to the contest rules (it’s just too much fun not to!) It was during this contest that I drafted “the goblin project“. (It has a better working title than that, but I don’t want to give it away online yet so this is what I call it on the blog.) I’m proud of this story and think that it has a real chance at becoming a book someday. I’ve got a clear sense of the story and the characters. I’ve shared my first draft with friends and family. I’m working on a second draft now (read a writing update here) and have set the end of October as a deadline for myself to have the second draft done. After that, onward and upward until it’s eventually on store shelves.
Thanks for bearing with me on this walk down memory lane. If you’ve ever wanted to write a novel but can never seem to find enough time to commit to starting a first draft, then I highly recommend participating in the International 3-Day Novel Contest. It’s a fantastic, tiring, fun, mind-mushing experience, and at the end of three days you’ve got a first draft done.
Totally worth it!